Transgressive DIY ('Do-It-Yourself') Spaces, Mixed Virtual/Physical Affinity Spaces, and Building Code Vigilantism

Albany Government Law Journal (2019)

49 Pages Posted: 14 May 2019

See all articles by Sara Ross

Sara Ross

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law

Date Written: April 12, 2019


This article first situates itself within the example of Toronto as one of UNESCO’s newly minted global “Cities of Culture”. This network of “creative cities” is intended to facilitate a framework for these cities to work together in “placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and co-operating actively at the international level.” To this end, this article then turns to the recent deadly fire that decimated Oakland’s Ghost Ship DIY community and live/work artist-run space as prominent and applicable warning for the local governance and municipal legal frameworks of many other cities with similar artistically potent but precarious and vulnerable spaces of independent and grassroots art and culture. Tracing the nuanced interactions of mixed virtual/physical affinity spaces engaging groups and individuals that find a home in DIY spaces with those who would seek to have these spaces and individuals displaced reveals a growing trend of what can be termed: building code vigilantism. While Toronto is but one example where affected independent grassroots arts and culture spaces have been affected by building code vigilantism, similar communities in cities across North America have been targeted with the same processes and to the same displacing effect. As such, a micro examination that narrows in on the experience of a local DIY community—such as the one found in Toronto— is relevant to any other urban center interested in sustainable redevelopment strategies, legislation, and policies that rely on “culture”.

Keywords: Vigilantism; Cultural Heritage; Public Policy; Municipal Law; Administrative Law; Internet Bullying; Arts and Culture

JEL Classification: K11, K14, K42, K10, I31, R58

Suggested Citation

Ross, Sara, Transgressive DIY ('Do-It-Yourself') Spaces, Mixed Virtual/Physical Affinity Spaces, and Building Code Vigilantism (April 12, 2019). Albany Government Law Journal (2019), Available at SSRN:

Sara Ross (Contact Author)

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law ( email )

6061 University Avenue
6061 University Ave
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H9

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